The 5 Stripes have endured a stretch of opponents together with Los Angeles FC, New York Metropolis FC, Sporting Kansas Metropolis and most not too long ago Orlando Metropolis, and so they managed to endure just one defeat alongside the way in which — to Sporting Kansas Metropolis — with final Sunday’s win in opposition to Orlando Metropolis pushing Atlanta again to the highest of the league’s total standings.
The subsequent stiff take a look at for Tata Martino’s males will come from the New York Purple Bulls, who’ve gained three straight and have the squad to make issues troublesome for Atlanta. Issues do not precisely get a lot simpler for Atlanta United after that — New England, NYCFC and Portland are on the upcoming schedule — however the Purple Bulls are a staff able to mounting a critical title problem, in addition to one which matches up effectively with the present East leaders.
Whereas the Atlanta United-Purple Bulls conflict headlines MLS Week 12, the weekend options loads of different subplots. MLS Cup champion Toronto FC will look to halt its slide down the East standings with a win in opposition to Orlando Metropolis, and should achieve this with out suspended Sebastian Giovinco, who joins Jozy Altidore, Drew Moor and Justin Morrow on the record of unavailable standouts. Orlando Metropolis noticed its six-match successful streak halted by Atlanta, and might be trying to bounce again up the East standings with a win at BMO Area.
Within the Western Convention, LAFC takes a break from its stadium-opening house stand to go to a streaking Portland Timbers aspect that has gained 4 straight and holds an ideal Three-Zero file at Windfall Park this season. The match is an enormous one for Bob Bradley’s males, as looming departures for the World Cup will quickly deplete LAFC’s roster.
Here’s a nearer have a look at the important thing speaking factors for MLS Week 12:
Match of the Week: Atlanta United vs. New York Purple Bulls
Can anyone cease a full-strength Atlanta United? That is the query that also persists because the MLS leaders return house to tackle a robust Purple Bulls aspect. Final week’s loss to Sporting Kansas Metropolis appeared to counsel Atlanta may very well be contained, however Brad Guzan’s crimson card clearly skewed the result of that match, making it removed from a superb instance of how you can include the highest-scoring staff within the league.
The Purple Bulls have the make-up of a staff that might include Atlanta, with their high-press system, dynamic midfield and hard protection, and their latest demolition of NYCFC confirmed that they’re able to shutting down a harmful assault. That derby rout has absolutely been one for Martino to check as he seems to be to keep away from the pitfalls that befell Patrick Vieira’s aspect at Purple Bull Area.
There are a plethora of fantastic particular person match-ups to regulate, however none might be extra compelling than early MLS MVP candidate Miguel Almiron taking up U.S. nationwide staff midfielder Tyler Adams. Almiron has run wild on opposing defenses, whereas Adams has proven his potential to neutralize even the most effective of playmakers.
The match additionally supplies a battle between two coaches thought of among the many greatest within the league, and two who’ve usually been talked about as perfect candidates to grow to be the U.S. nationwide staff supervisor.
The perimeters met twice final 12 months, with the Purple Bulls successful in Atlanta within the growth staff’s inaugural match, earlier than the groups performed to a goal-less draw later within the season. Atlanta performed that match with out Almiron, and each groups have made key additions since 2017, with Ezequiel Barco and Darlington Nagbe becoming a member of the Atlanta assault whereas Kaku and Tim Parker have given the Purple Bulls important upgrades.
Match-ups to Watch
Miguel Almiron vs. Tyler Adams. These younger, dynamic and tenacious midfielders will sq. off as opponents for the primary time in a battle of two of the league’s greatest.
Sacha Kljestan vs. Michael Bradley. With Chris Mavinga doubtlessly returning to the beginning lineup for TFC, Bradley may return to his regular defensive midfield function, which might arrange this tasty battle together with his outdated USMNT midfield companion.
Diego Fagundez vs. Wil Trapp. These younger midfielders have been doing battle in opposition to one another since coming into the league in 2012, and now that rivalry ought to solely intensify as Fagundez settles right into a central function, the place he’ll go head-to-head with Trapp.
Josef Martinez vs. Tim Parker. Martinez’s pace makes him a handful for any defender, however Parker’s athleticism ought to serve him effectively, as ought to some assist from Aaron Lengthy.
Bradley Wright-Phillips vs. Michael Parkhurst. Whereas Leandro Gonzalez Pirez may spend extra time on Wright-Phillips, it can extra possible be as much as Parkhurst to make sure the Atlanta protection stays organized and limits his harmful runs.
Diego Valeri vs. Benny Feilhaber. As a lot as Feilhaber has taken effectively to his new deeper-lying midfield function, he may have his arms full making an attempt to include the reigning MLS MVP.
Darwin Quintero vs. Ilie Sanchez. Quintero is a handful operating out of midfield, with the tempo to overwhelm opposing defensive midfielders, however Sanchez is great at placing himself in good place, and he’ll even have some assist from Roger Espinoza.
Albert Rusnak vs. Alejandro Bedoya. The RSL assault runs by means of Rusnak, and Bedoya is sensible and tenacious sufficient to maintain the Slovakian playmaker from getting too comfy.
Week 12 Predictions
TORONTO FC 2, Orlando Metropolis 1. No Giovinco? No Altidore? No downside. As robust as Orlando Metropolis is, if Greg Vanney can get Victor Vazquez and Chris Mavinga again into the lineup, TFC has the instruments to halt its slide.
*NEW YORK CITY FC Three, Rapids Zero. The Rapids have misplaced 4 straight, and going through a hungry NYCFC squad taking part in its first house match of the month is not the place that streak will finish.
TIMBERS 2, LAFC 1. May we see a letdown from Portland after its Cascadia Derby win? Do not wager on it. Diego Valeri has an enormous day, whereas the Timbers protection retains Carlos Vela quiet.
FC DALLAS 2, Whitecaps Zero. The Whitecaps have struggled on the highway, and have been leaky defensively with out Stefan Marinovic in objective. FC Dallas is unbeaten at house, and may discover loads of probabilities.
REVOLUTION 2, Crew 1. The Revs gave Columbus all they might deal with when these groups met a month in the past. Brad Friedel’s squad has much more confidence and may be capable to finish the Crew’s five-match unbeaten run.
UNION 2, Actual Salt Lake. Zero. Profitable on the highway in Montreal ought to give the Union a confidence enhance in opposition to an RSL aspect that has been horrible on away from house this season.
EARTHQUAKES 2, D.C. United Zero. After taking 4 factors from a two-game highway swing, the Earthquakes ought to roll comfortably in opposition to a D.C. aspect that has struggled on the highway.
Minnesota United 1, SPORTING KANSAS CITY 2. The Loons dropped a disappointing one at house per week in the past, and now face a Sporting KC aspect coming off per week of relaxation.
FIRE 2, Dynamo 1. Dax McCarty’s absence with a hamstring harm will damage the Fireplace, however search for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic to step up in opposition to a Dynamo aspect that’s nonetheless a combined bag on the highway.
ATLANTA UNITED 2, Purple Bulls 1. The Purple Bulls undoubtedly have the squad to seize a win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, however search for the 5 Stripes to prevail, with Josef Martinez main the way in which.